Thursday 29 November 2012

Riven Blog Tour: Character Interview

Hey guys!  Today I'm delighted to be helping Alivia Anders celebrate the upcoming release of the third and final installment in the Illumine Series by taking part in this tour.  I recently read Illumine and Obumbrate, the first two, and can honestly say I really enjoyed them!  Please do go and add them to your to-read lists.

Today we have a special guest!  Readers and reviewers, I introduce to you...Kayden!  Who is he, you ask?  Well, read on and you'll find out! :)

Hello, Kayden! First of all, loving the name. It’s amazing having you here. Why don’t you start by telling readers a little bit about yourself?

Come now, darling, I don’t like to kiss and tell. Well, I don’t like to kiss and tell often. Perhaps I’ll make an exception, just for you? You can call me Kayden, the ever-infuriating demon continuously bothering dear Essallie. She’s quite the silly, hot-headed girl.
What does it feel like to be summoned, physically and emotionally (let’s pretend for a moment you have a heart :P)?
If I had a heart, I would imagine summoning would induce what your mortals refer to as a heart attack. Demons are comprised solely of our essence; to mortals, it appears as a smokey substance. Summoning us forces our essence through various timelines, planes, and realms as the incantation drags us to our calling point. It’s rather gut-twisting. 
When you’re not hanging around with Essalie, teaching her to handle her fire, playing with fire yourself by constantly taunting her and generally making your presence known, what do you do with yourself?
Come a little closer, what I do in my spare time isn’t for the prude to hear. Although, on occasion I’ll taunt Ari for amusement. He’s quite the hot-head himself.
What do you think of Essalie? We won’t tell if you don’t want her to know.
I briefly wonder if you would tell her, not that it matters. She’s a silly girl, an unfortunate with a time-bomb running in her tiny mortal veins. I feel pity for her. She’ll never have the ‘normal’ mortal life you humans so desperately search for.
She keeps asking how you do that thing where your arm disappears and it comes back healed. For the record, that’s a very cool trick. Are we ever going to find out how you do that?
All in the essence, my dear.
You have some demons of your own (pun intended). Do you think you’ll ever be ready to share them with Essie?
My past is not something to touch upon. Some demons, even ones I could handle without qualm, are best left to the past.
Of course you have your own agenda when it comes to her, but what are your thoughts generally when it comes to Nephilim, the reasons they exist and the powers they have? What about the way they’re treated? Would you prefer it another way? Have your thoughts changed over time?
By the standard definition, Nephilim are half-angel, half-mortal creatures, damned and vile. At least, that’s what we have given the mortal world to use and feed their wild imaginations. Nephilim, and their true destiny, is to restore and maintain the balance between mortal and supernatural, and remove those who cannot keep themselves quiet among the supernatural world. I have seen both sides of how the Nephilim have been treated, and how they treat those around them. It varies from one to the next, but overall most Nephilim carry a natural ability to see the better of the world, instead of feeding into the negative. I do believe that every Nephilim should carry a balance of light and dark within them; the last pure Nephilim I met, Lucy, was tragically murdered in battle, because she believed even the blackest of hearts could find redemption.
Without wanting to spoil anything, do you see a way out from what is, at the very least, a dire situation at the end of Obumbrate?
Most definitely. Can’t guarantee we’d all survive with all our limbs, though.
What do you think of Ari?
Charming little hormonal child. He would do good with a little time to grow-up.
If you knew you were going to die soon, how would you spend the time you had left?
Assuming I could actually, fully, completely die? I’ve always held a fond admiration for the beach. My final moments would be filled with sand, sun, and perhaps a lovely blonde-haired woman.
Last question. If you had to pick one eye colour to stick with, which would you go for?
Black. You can’t tell what someone is thinking when their eyes are black; all you see is darkness.
Hmm, he certainly makes a good point there! Although I imagine it would be disturbing actually looking at them. ;)  Kayden, folks! *He disappears in smoke after giving a lazy smile*

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#18)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights any upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: 1st January 2013

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Summary taken from Goodreads

Doesn't this sound like the perfect way to start your reading list for the new year?  An original take on a timeless classic...with a gorgeous cover you can just stare at once you're done.  I've loved every adapation of it I've watched, including Alice, which is a darker version with Andrew Lee Potts doing a fabulous job with Hatter; Martin Short is another favourite, a much different interpretation.  I'm looking forward to seeing the equivalent of the Mad Hatter, if indeed there is one, as he's one of my absolute favourite characters.  Hilarious and insane - what's not to love? :D

What about you?  What are you waiting on this week?  Link me up!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#17)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  This week for me it's:

Title: The Weight of Stars (Songs of New Asgard #1)
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: 2013

First book in a new series which presents an alternate history of the U.S. in which the country was founded on elements of Norse religions, and gods walk among humans, with some maintaining powerful positions in the government. Book one follows two teenagers who embark on a cross-country search for a missing god. As the kids travel through the United States of Asgard they encounter “smalltown zealots, trickster gods, and sadistic field trolls.”

Summary taken from Goodreads

Now, I know there isn't a cover for it yet, and no definitive release date, and only a basic synopsis at the moment, but does that make this any less exciting?  I don't think so.  If anything, it makes it more so because there's more anticipation.  I love the idea of having a superpower's history rewritten, love the idea of it being based on Norse mythology.  And, seeing as there is no cover, it was the title that first attracted me.  'The Weight of Stars'.  It sounds almost poetic, quite deep and mysterious, calling my name.  2013 hurry up already!

What about you?  Does this sound like your kind of read?  What are you waiting for this week?

Saturday 17 November 2012

Review: Lacrimosa

Title: Lacrimosa (Requiem #1)
Author: Christine Fonseca
Publisher: Compass Press
Released: 21st March 2012
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lacrimosa is one of those books you have to bear with before the story becomes truly engaging and you feel sufficiently invested.  I spent a lot of this frustrated with what I was reading and inwardly groaning at how far I was from the end; it seemed to drag on and I think at one point I was tempted to just stop reading.  But some parts of it were good, and if the level at which the ending was written was consistent, this could have been great.

Nesy is a Sentinel, a level of angel whose job it is to vanquish the UnHoly.  Professional, detached, determined, Sentinels don't feel emotion, and Nesy is the best there is.  But all that changes when she's forced to take the form of a 17 year old girl in order to confront Aydan, her latest assignment.  Things get complicated when the two of them realise they know each other from their human lives.  With the additional problem of Azzaziel, the Dark One, leader of the UnHoly, Nesy needs to decide: either do her duty and cast Aydan into hell, or ignore her duty and suffer the consequences.

I mentioned before that I found this frustrating.  Exceptionally so.  So much of it focuses on the romance.  Those of you who know me know how much I love my romance - so what's the problem?  Well, the insta-love for one.  I didn't see what either of them saw in the other.  And I found it incredibly repetitive.  There was this constant back and forth with Nesy - one minute she'd resolve to kill Aydan and beg the Council for another chance, the next minute she'd see Aydan and her resolve would crumble.  Aydan would flit between succumbing to his hunger for souls and wanting it to end and be strong for Nesy.  What I ended up reading for the most part was this confusion of emotions, and eventually it grew to be tiresome.

Nesy is meant to be a 500 year old warrior, yet I saw little evidence of wisdom or experience that she surely should have picked up.  I would have liked to see greater contrast between how she usually acts as a Sentinel and how she's affected by this assignment.  She did eventually toughen up, however, and start to use her intelligence; she did finally do her best to fulfil her duty, even if it was a the pushing of the one person who, in normal circumstances, would have pleaded for the opposite.  Her failure to kill Aydan went from being the result of her emotions to Azza's interference, a much better excuse.  I did feel sorry for Nesy, for what she went through when she was human and the betrayal she felt after discovering a certain truth.  This girl does have a lot of pain in her and it's hard not to feel that at some point.

The book is split between her and Aydan's point of view, so I would have expected more insight to him.  Mostly he focused on Nesy, but there were clear signs of his struggle to cope with the Beast.  I never did figure out if that was literal, some force within him, or just a metaphor for his hunger.  I would have liked to see more contrast in his character too, but I did grow to appreciate his willingness to sacrifice himself and feel the pain he suffered.  Azza as an evil being wasn't as impressive as he could be - using this nickname even after his identity was revealed didn't exactly help - and the secondary characters fell flat too.  Zane, Nesy's apparent best friend, I found quite annoying and didn't seem to possess any best friend qualities; Cass was overly sympathetic and seemed quite happy to invade Nesy's heart for someone who was supposed to be her friend.

Yet for all that, there were parts that were worth reading.  I enjoy reading angel/demon stories generally.  I liked seeing this different side to angels - they appear kind, beings that help humanity, yet they have a habit of invading thoughts and opening up your soul.  Even one of the Council harbours a secret.  The ending was well done, bringing some much-needed action.  If you like reading about angels, I would still give this one a go, but do be prepared for the relationship between Nesy and Aydan.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Blog Tour: Review & Interview: Life on the Edge

Title: Life on the Edge
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Publisher: Astraea Press
Released: 3rd January 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Skating is Emily's life.  Unless she can be on the ice every day, she isn't happy. Pairs skating is just a new way of skating and achieving her dream of being in the Olympics.  More than that, both she and her partner Chris want to get gold while they're there.  Their coach is Sergei, much younger than average and with a past he's not inclined to share.  With his help Emily and Chris have the gold medal in sight, but then a problem starts to develop: the feelings between Sergei and Emily.  Somehow the two must keep it a secret and work past the obstacles if either have any hope of achieving that goal or keeping their careers.

This was a really engrossing, entertaining read.  I've only watched a couple of skating films; to be honest I'm really not a sports person in any shape or form, yet I enjoyed reading about the competitions, the rehearsals, this constant journey the characters are on to stay on top and live their dream.  I wanted them to get high scores; I wanted them to get that gold medal.  It also gave me a whole new appreciation for how difficult it is to be part of a sport as a career, and just how much it takes.  I'm very admiring of people who can do something like skating, because it takes a lot of skill and practice. I know as I sat there the whole time reading it I was thinking that I could never do something like that; my awful hand-eye co-ordination wouldn't allow for it and I'd probably be too afraid of all the falls, both physical and metaphorical, I'd have to take.

Emily fights past that fear.  Every time a competition comes up she becomes incredibly nervous and anxious, yet she does her best to get past that and let herself be the best that she can be when she's on the ice.  Her passion and determination really comes through and that made her an admirable character; it made it easy to want good things for her.  Even when she'd committed herself to a relationship with Sergei, she was still fiercely determined to get the medal - this girl always had her eye on the prize.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.  I admit I did have a bit of a problem at the beginning.  It wasn't insta-love - I just want to make that clear.  It's more that Comeaux just relates it more generally rather than going into detail for a couple of scenes.  Through Emily she stated that they met several times, had lengthier conversations, and then they came to realise they were growing to have feelings for each other.  This wasn't exactly a major problem, though, and I was soon engrossed reading about the ups and downs in their relationship, scared on Emily's behalf about the trouble they might get into.  Sergei is sweet and respects Emily's morals; at the same time he pushes her to do better when she's skating, knowing exactly what she's capable of.  His past is a sad one, though perhaps not as different or shocking as you might hope.

Comeaux has created a wonderful set of characters here.  Yes, Emily and Sergei are the main ones, but from Chris, who's funny and supportive and generally just really likeable, to Courtney. one of Em's students, who's like your adorable little sister, to Em's roommate, to her parents...all of the characters had their own personalities and voices.  This is also not one of those stories where the author clearly has no idea what they're talking about.  It's extremely obvious Comeaux has done her research, and it creates a very strong, believable story.  Life on the Edge is a brilliant balance between skating and romance, between plot and characters, and I can definitely recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether or not you're a sports fan.


Hi Jennifer!  First I’d just like to say, welcome to the blog. It’s great having you here. J

So, your wonderful book, Life on the Edge, revolves around ice skating.  What first got you interested in the sport?

Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been watching skating on TV since I was a little girl, and I was always fascinated by it. We don’t have any rinks near my town, so I’ve only skated once in my life (just last year!), but I love watching the sport any chance I get. I think it’s the perfect combination of sport and art. 

Emily is an incredibly determined character – of course she has to be with all the competition, and has to struggle through all the nerves.  Is there any of yourself in her?

 There is a little bit of me in Emily! I am very competitive just as she is, and we have many of the same core values. She’s a much, much better athlete than I am, though. I’ve never been good at sports!

Me neither!  You set the book so that it would encompass a particularly memorable year.  What was the purpose of that?

 I first got the idea for the story about eight years ago, so I pictured the events happening around the 2002 Olympics. Even though I didn’t start writing the book until a couple of years ago, I wanted to keep the story in that time period. I liked the idea of Emily and Chris competing at an Olympics on home soil, and I also wanted them to be able to compete at the National Championships in Boston (Emily’s hometown), which were held in 2001.

Did you know what was going to happen and outline the story, or did you just sort of figure it out as you went along?

I first wrote the story just for my sister and a few friends to read. It started out as sort of a serial – a never-ending story where I’d just keep adding chapters. After about a year of writing, I decided to edit what I had into a publishable book. I had way too much material and did a lot of cutting and rewriting. After many changes, it all came together! So, I didn’t go through a conventional book-writing process J

What was your favourite scene to write?

 Ooh, I had a lot of favorites, but one of them was the Tokyo nightclub/hotel scene because I love writing flirty dialogue and showing the chemistry between Emily and Sergei.

What have been the top highlights of your writing career?

Meeting readers online and making so many new friends has been a big highlight. I had no idea what to expect going into this new adventure, and it’s been amazing to meet so many wonderful people. Hearing people tell me they love the characters and can identify with them has also been so wonderful. 

Do you have any upcoming releases or projects you’re working on?

The sequel to Life on the Edge will be released in a few weeks! It’s titled Edge of the Past and will continue Emily and Sergei’s story. You can find out more about it on my blog! I also just started working on the third and final book in the Edge series.

Thanks for agreeing to take part in an interview, Jennifer! :)

Saturday 10 November 2012

Blog Tour: Promo: Loving Summer

Hey guys! Today I have a bit for you about Loving Summer by Kailin Gow. Enjoy. :)

Title: Loving Summer
Author: Kailin Gow
Publisher: The EDGE Books
Released: 28th May 2012

Summer has always looked forward to spending her summers at her Aunt's beach house with the Donovans. To her, summers at Aunt Sookie's beach house was magical, especially getting to spend time with the Donovans - her best friend Rachel and Rachel's brothers Nathaniel, and Drew. Here at Aunt Sookie's beach house, they can be anyone and anything they dreamed. For Summer, she had always wished to become as pretty as Rachel and for her brothers to think of her as more than Rachel's friend. For Nat and Drew, summers at Aunt Sookie's beach house meant fun and escape, a place where they go to with their mom and sister for the summer, away from city life. They never thought this summer would be different. They never thought things would change as much as they did...and it all began with them falling for and loving Summer.

Loving Summer is one of those summer books you can just sit back and read. I know it's not summer now but reading this you can imagine you're on a beach. ;) It does also touch on some other issues, so it's not entirely light.

Monday 5 November 2012

Cover Reveal: Pieces

Hey guys!  Today I'm really excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Pieces, by Michelle Davidson Argyle.  Enjoy! :)

Title: Pieces
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Released: 14th February 2013

Two years after watching her kidnappers go to prison, Naomi Jensen is still in love with one of them. Jesse will be released in a few years, and Naomi knows college is the perfect distraction while she waits. But when her new friend Finn makes her question what is right and what is wrong, she begins to wonder if Jesse is the one for her … until she discovers he's out on parole. Naomi must sort through her confusion to figure out where love and freedom truly lie—in Finn, who has no connections to her past, or Jesse, who has just asked her to run away with him.

Pieces is a companion to The Breakaway and can be read independently, if desired.

Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favorites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.

Friday 2 November 2012

Review: Anomaly

Title:  Anomaly (The New Haven Project #1)
Author: Jessica Marie Gilliland
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 7th July 2012
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was sorely tempted to give this five stars, but after finishing it and then sleeping on it, I figure (reluctantly) four stars is probably more fair.  It wasn’t perfect, but who needs perfection?  You read this and you are in for a ride. (Ugh, you know what, forget it.  I’m switching this to a 4.5.) 

It’s been five years since Caitlin Tierney was kidnapped from New Haven, a secret institute for children with superhuman abilities.  Her kidnappers?  The Anomaly Control Team, or ACT.  Viewing the children there as a threat, they implanted tacking devices that would both allow the ACT to keep an eye on them and neutralise their powers.  Now, Caity is still trying to fit in with normal life, and it’s (sort of) going OK…until she receives a mysterious letter.  Tracing it back, it’s not long before she’s face to face with Chase, the guy she’s still in love with after all these years, and who she never thought she’d see again.  But with Chase comes the new New Haven, and it doesn’t seem to have changed at all. 

So much happens in this book, it’s unbelievable.  That description I just wrote?  That’s just half the book.  But the amazing thing is that so much happens…and it never gets boring.  I mean, OK, the beginning was a little slow, but after that it picks up and then you’re just zipping along.  I had every scene in my head, I was feeling everything that was going on, whether it was physical or emotional, and by the time I reached 80%, was I going to go to bed at a reasonable time just to get a good night’s sleep?  Of course not.  Half-terms exist for a reason, that reason being lie-ins. (Any teachers reading this might just want to…um…ignore that.)  But anyway, at no point did I start to lose interest and by the end I had my face just inches away from my Kindle. 

Caity, my dear…can we be friends?  No?  Why not?  Oh…yes.  Well, if you were real, I can assure you we’d be besties.  Sorry, Lexie. *turns attention back to reader* Ahem.  Anyway.  Caity was a fantastic protag.  This girl was badass.  This girl was strong.  This girl was smart.  Admittedly, her decision to jump on a plane as soon as she got that letter informing her she had a sister was somewhat questionable.  No-one does that that quickly, no-one feels a sudden protective streak as soon as they get that kind of news.  But apart from that, she was quite a believable character.  Fine, apart from that and her powers, she was quite a believable character.  Caity can both feel the emotions of other people and also move things with her mind, making her pretty unique.  Seriously, you do not want to mess with her when she gets angry.  Ask Bethany Stone, evil leader of New Haven.  I also think she was quite smart when it came to Chase. 

Chase is…adorable.  At first.  The thing is, he’s changed a lot since they got separated five years ago.   He goes from adorable when we meet him to delusional and it was quite a sad thing to see.  Sad for Caity especially, not to mention painful.  I couldn’t believe what he was allowing to happen, what he had volunteered to be put through; quite honestly, he was turning increasingly crazy.  Now, you know how there are some female protags who refuse to see what’s right in front of them and carry on mooning idiotically over the love of their life?  Caity’s not one of them.  There was a point in a key scene that I thought, ‘Uh-oh.  Please don’t tell me she’s about to make that mistake.’  Thankfully, she didn’t, and she left.  (That’s the other half of the book.  She leaves and Stuff Happens.)   That, in my book, made her quite sensible.

OK, so…I’m going to tell you something and you have to promise not to do anything drastic.  Don’t now slam a wall between yourself and this book, don’t just say, ‘Forget it.’  Promise?  Pinky swear?  You as well, do you promise?  OK.  Good.  So…there is a love triangle BUT. 

But.  This takes place after Caity leaves New Haven and stumbles across a makeshift family, of whom Kismet is the leader.  Kiz for short.  There is no insta-love.  Kiz is honestly a really sweet guy.  He’s very quiet.  He has a power that would make any other guy arrogant and someone you’d want to slap, but he in contrast dislikes it because of how it makes people treat him.  What is it, you ask?  Well, go read it.  But seriously, the love triangle in this case makes perfect sense; it is well-written.  And you know what, for me, it ends perfectly.  Gilliland isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done, and if it had ended in any other way, I would have been outraged.  But I was saved from that annoyance, and instead I got to carry on reading in satisfaction. 

Aware as I am of how long this review is turning out to be, I’m going to stop here.  There’s just too much to talk about.  I will just quickly mention that I did have an issue with the tracking devices, it seemed that they were removed too late and so the ACT should have been down on everyone like a ton of bricks and yet they weren’t until a certain point.  But other than that, this book was fabulous.  Every character had their own unique power, their own individual personality; Benji (otherwise known as Headset) was adorable and 4 year old Izzy stunned me.  So:  a diverse set of characters, a highly compelling plotline, a great romance…why aren’t you reading this yet?

A big big thank you to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.